Tag Archives: vin diesel

And the driving continues

I know it’s an obvious thing to say, but there is a lot of penis waving in this, the fourth film.

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In other words: Brian and Dom are back together! Whee! Brian’s with the Feds, Dom has been doing bad things in the Dominican Republic (i.e. somewhere exotic where there can be shots of girls in very little clothing). He’s suddenly got all concerned about Letty being involved in it all, and decides to rob her of her agency by running away in the middle of the night. Yeh, goodonya DOM. Doofus. Because she’s ends up dead and, admittedly through a convoluted route, that’s basically your fault. Oh look; fast-car-driving, bonnet-riding Letty got damsel’d. What a turn up for the plot department.

Anyway that brings Brian and Dom back together because they’re both trying to solve problems that point to the same person. And oh what a surprise, it’s going to involve them getting into his good books… by being his drivers. Never saw THAT one coming.

The driving in this one takes things up a notch by making some of the races through traffic, which always lends a certain frisson on ohmigod they’re all going to die.

The plot is incredibly simplistic, and very similar to the first and second, but it still manages to be an enjoyable movie. Mostly because Dom and Brian are so much fun: Dom is so serious and sad and epic; Brian is like a little puppy. Together they make sweet bromance.

 

And then… suddenly, the franchise discovered this thing called “A plot.” Because apparently they watched Ocean’s 11. Fast 5 is Ocean’s 11 with cars. I think that makes Diesel Clooney, and Walker Matt Damon… which doesn’t entirely work, but I’m sticking to it. Because the crew is called together to do “one last job” – which ends up being to rip off the crime boss who seems to run Rio, and take his $100 million.

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They just keep upping the stakes with the villains, don’t they? Not that I’m complaining of course.

My very favourite line in this entire movie is: “I thought cock fights were illegal in Brazil.” Oh Han, ma bukee! That’s right folks, after a very brief appearance in the fourth movie, Han has a starring role here as part of the gathered crew, showing that Tokyo Drift is completely out of the franchise’s chronology. Which is so fine. Because Han’s presence makes any movie better.

Some interesting things: Mia got to drive at the start of the movie (and end of the 4th), when they break Dom out of the prison bus… and then it’s announced she’s pregnant. Which actually doesn’t have much place in the movie except to provide her, apparently, with an ongoing reason to scold her brother and her lover and tell them that they have to stick together, even though that increases their chances of being caught by The Rock.

Did I mention The Rock? This movie has The Rock in it. Physically, anyway, because dude is hard to miss. Mentally… meh.

The swticheroos conducted in this film, the convoluted who’s-bad turns, and the audacity of some of the stunts make this probably the best movie of the set.

 

We did the double of Fast 5 and Furious 6 back to back. My brains might have softened slightly in the process, but I enjoyed almost every minute of it.

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The 6th film starts almost where the 5th left off. Mia is having a baby… which is basically an excuse to have her out of the film, leaving Dom and Brian to be awesome Car Bros together, and then make it oh so much more terrible when she’s kidnapped (because mothers are worth more, don’t ya know). But it’s ok, because there are still girls in the film! And one of them – which is totally spoiled in the credits, I do not know why they do that – is Letty. Yes, she whom they buried as the plot’s turning point in the fourth film, is back.

With amnesia.

UnknownDom is not happy. Not least because Letty shoots him.

There’s perhaps even more narrative, and slightly less driving, in this film than the fifth. Because this time, the crew (including Haaaan!) really are the good guys – they’re helping Mr My Tshirt Is Too Tight (aka The Rock) to find a rogue military dude who’s knocking off military stuff. Because, evil. My very favourite bit is that the military dude has a crew very similar to Our Crew… and Roman points this out. Fast&Furious went meta!!

The one thing that really made me worry for the second half of this film was realising that while Han and Gisele are a lovely couple in this film, they’re not together in Tokyo Drift and Han is all mopey in that film. So clearly they’re going to break up, or she’s going to die.

And then Gisele died.

Dammit.

This movie has a tank, and cars on a plane, and the threat of selling an Evil Device to Nefarious People. It comes in just under the 5th one because by now I was actually expecting something decent.

 

And then I discovered that they’re making a seventh movie.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Cars not my favourite thing. I like a chase scene, sure, and I have a ridiculous soft spot for Top Gear. But cars in general are not enough for me to watch a movie or enjoy it.

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The Fast and the Furious therefore is not an obvious movie for me to watch or enjoy. And I did enjoy rewatching it. I haven’t seen it in years, and I had forgotten most of what happens. The plot itself… well. It’s not quite the equivalent of Top Gun, where as far as I am concerned there’s awesome plane stunts broken up by a really crappy story. It’s a mixture of Top Gun for the stunts and the story of Point Break, since it’s basically exactly the same story – cop undercover in an exciting seedy possibly-criminal world, gets too close, and then what happens? Here, Brian is the cop; he’s trying to get in with Dom, an ace quarter-mile illegal drag racer who might be part of a criminal gang knocking over trucks filled with electronics.

What’s good about it? I like the interplay between Dom and Brian. It’s absolutely alpha-male pissing contest, but it’s got… joy, maybe, and genuine respect, tied in. There are some entertaining secondary characters – the suspicious yob, the nerdy one, and two girls who largely exist just for the sexual tension, except Letty does indeed race with the boys and is mighty good at it.

And I love the car scenes.

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2 Fast 2 Furious I had not seen before, or if I had it was wiped from my mind… because Diesel is not in it, and seriously bro what is the point then?

Anyway, we watched it. Brian has left the cops and moved to Miami where of course he’s drag racing and gets in trouble. He ends up working for the police to try and catch a big drugs-cartel dude who’s laundering money. Brian drags a former friend into the action, so that we get white boy-black boy interactions to prove that Brian is really hip, bro.

There are some improvements in this film over the last. Suki is a serious racer chick, complete with lady posse, tricked out car, and awesome graphic design skills. And she gets completely tied up in the shenanigans. There are some come-on remarks, but it mostly comes across as genuinely being part of the way they interact – it’s not meant to be taken seriously. And yes, this is problematic I know, but… it’s better than some of the alternatives? The position of the undercover cop Monica is slightly more problematic, being all caught up in URST on Brian’s (and possibly her) part, but it’s still more nuanced than in the first.

But the plot leaves a lot to be desired, given that it’s kind of a rehashing of the first one anyway just with a nastier villain calling the shots and thus raising the stakes. Brian and Roman’s relationship – while entertaining – isn’t much on Brian and Dom’s. And I think there might be less driving.

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Worst plot, best driving. So my darling described this film, and I think he’s right. Drifting is simply glorious, I think because while I can feasibly imagine driving very fast in a straight line, drifting is an utterly alien skill set. Also, it’s through Tokyo, and that just looks magnificent.

Also, there’s Han: Sung Kang. Dude is so cool he’s basically ice. He’s my very favourite. Plus DK – the stereotypical jumped-up wannabe villain with too much arrogance and testosterone, playing on his uncle’s yakuza ties – is actually pretty awesome too. If only because he does menacing beautifully.

Foreigner in Japan, making all the mistakes… blah. It’s just not done interestingly enough to make the cliche worth it. Also the father-son reconciliation makes no sense. And given that it’s all about a white boy learning drifting from the Japanese kids and then beating the best, it’s could be seen as another example of white man being better than non-white man at something that’s native. In a sense, anyway.

And look, I’m sorry to the Americans, but Sean’s accent really doesn’t help matters. (Neela’s Australian accent is also totally out of place and unlikely.)

Riddick

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Some people will probably find this unbelievable, but I was disappointed by Riddick, the third in the Richard B. Riddick series.

Did Diesel and Twohy realise that Riddick was going to be such a badass when they named him Richard B. Riddick? It makes him sound like a cartoon character.

There are spoilers below, if you care.

I was disappointed to be disappointed, because I really like the first two films. I am so not the target audience of Pitch Black; I do not like horror, I do not tend to like creature features, I do not enjoy being scared. But Pitch Black… well, it has Claudia Black and Radha Mitchell, which helps. The planet and its creepy inhabitants are just so crazy that I liked them, and I found the interaction between the different sorts of characters – the scared, competent pilot; the wine snob; the drug-addicted cop; the imam; and the Riddick – quite enthralling. As for Chronicles of Riddick, I’m only a little embarrassed to say that I love this insane b-grade dystopic over-the-top sf action film. Hell, it has Karl Urban in awesome makeup, and it has mad sets, and Crematoria is spectacularly nuts as a planet. So going into Riddick, I thought – well, how bad can it be? From the ads it was clear they were taking the franchise back to the Pitch Black model, which is fine; I was expecting some equivalent fight scenes against humans and weird aliens, some snappy dialogue, maybe a plot. Also Katee Sackhoff!!

There were some entertaining bits, I’ll admit. That Riddick is now so notorious that mercenaries know his name, and the smart ones know to be terrified, allowed for some pretty amusing scenes. The aliens were indeed as weird and unlikely as I expected. There was a brief shot of Karl Urban in his eyeliner. Sackhoff (whose character is Dahl, which is a very unfortunate name) is kickass with a sniper’s rifle. That one of the mercenaries was actually there in order to get information about the drugged-up Johns from Pitch Black gave it something of a Die Hard 3 feel, which I really liked, and meant that it did actually tie into both parts of Riddick’s past. I was intrigued by the back-to-basics appearance of the film, back to the first appearance of Riddick; it seems to suggest that Riddick makes more sense in a mostly-fighting-animals world, rather than even pretending to fit in, or interact, with humanity like in the second. And that’s an idea worth exploring.

But.

Oh, but. The first third or so of the film is basically Riddick-as-Robinson Crusoe, which was weird. Especially the bit where he domesticates a canine because… does that kind of make the dog a replacement for Jack/Kyra? Also, Riddick with a dog? That he feeds and cares for?  ?!?!? That was all a bit odd. And then the movie proceeds to the fighting-the-mercenaries bit, which is where the vague plot actually starts. And Dahl arrives. In a very tight outfit, with belts and straps that emphasise her bust even more. And half the time when the dialogue involved her, it was someone being sleazy. Even Riddick himself gets in on it, which shocked me enormously. The merc on the other team – fine, I understand, he’s a douche; that’s been established already, he doesn’t like a woman being in authority over him, and she can deal with him. It’s not nice, but the writers seem to think that that helps to establish him as being Super Bad. However, I honestly don’t remember Riddick being sleazy or misogynist in the other films. Did I miss something? He’s totally big-brother to Jack/Kyra – actually, not even that to Jack, he’s completely dispassionate. Maybe there’s a moment of maybe-electricity with the pilot, Fry, but no suggestion that they make out, as far as I recall. The comment that Riddick makes towards Dahl is just so crude that I was disgusted. Over at The Mary Sue, the argument is that Dahl – established as lesbian early on, in a moment that impressed me – uses her last line as a come-on to Riddick. I actually didn’t read it this way; for me, it seemed to reflect the situation they were in (a very intimate embrace on a rope hanging from a plane). Maybe I’m just in denial.

I am glad I did not pay to see this, but got to see it at a friend’s house. That said, Diesel has just announced the fourth movie… which makes my prediction of Riddick: the Search for Furya (based on the final 60 secs of this film) all the more likely. If they can get Karl Urban back into his eyeliner, I probably will go and see it. Because I am weak like that.

Pitch Black

I’m fairly sure that we watched Chronicles of Riddick at the movies one summer when it was unbearably hot outside. It looked exactly like our sort of thing: futuristic sets, awesome action/fighting sequences… excellent. Then we discovered that Riddick had had a previous outing, so of course it was a no-brainer: we had to find Pitch Black.

They are, of course, remarkably different movies. Pitch Black was made on a very tight budget, with a limited amount of time, in the Australian outback, and falls squarely into the SF/horror bracket. Chronicles had way more money and time – Diesel was a much bigger name three years later – and it is a much more lavish, grandiose film, that’s far more mainstream SF. And you can watch Chronicles without the benefit of Pitch Black, which is a remarkable achievement in a sequel.

But I’m not here to talk about Chronicles; that can wait. We re-watched Pitch Black a couple of days ago, so I thought I’d take the opportunity to muse on a couple of points.

Spoilers ahoy!

I love the anti-hero, and Riddick is close to the ultimate anti-hero. You really don’t know whether he’ll help the other survivors; the only reason I didn’t think he’d go for Johns’ plan is because he loathes Johns more than anyone else. I like that he is just human – frighteningly fast, strong, and quick-thinking, but he has no superpowers. Diesel sure knows how to deliver a line, too, which is one of the things that stops this film being way too grim for my liking.

The supporting cast is largely enjoyable. I love Claudia Black, so I’m always sad when she dies way too early. Radha Mitchell is nicely complex as the navigator trying to redeem herself, and it’s totally gutting that she doesn’t get to leave. Riddick’s one human moment comes with that stricken “not for me”. Paris P. Ogilvie is hilarious, and allows for a nice lightening of the mood; the Imam is an interesting choice for moral compass/unintimidated person. I wonder if he was only possible before the Sept 11 attacks? Perhaps becoming more feasible now…. I love Johns’ character because he alone has any real development – from apparent hero through to junkie bounty hunter, willing to sacrifice companions to save his own sorry butt. Plus, Cole Hauser is cool. And Jack – well, the kid certainly adds an interesting twist when he’s revealed to be a she. The implication that it’s bad enough that a boy would shave his head and enthuse about being a killer, but that for a girl to do so is that much more troubling, is fascinating.

I enjoy the cinematography and setting every time I watch it. There are just enough weird-ass camera shots that it has a less-than-mainstream feel to it, but not enough that I actually feel queasy. And the lighting is immensely effective. It’s overdone, but I think that’s part of its effectiveness. It’s so other, so alien, that the three suns thing feels like it fits right in. The whole eclipse-every-22-years thing? Totally terrifying. And I don’t know how many times I’ve seen this movie, but those damned monsters manage to scare me every single time: I forget when they’re going to appear, and then BAM – shriek! They’re utterly absurd, but they’re very clever.

Pitch Black remains a movie I will always enjoy re-watching.

Movies of the last few weeks

Hmm, do you get the feeling I really haven’t blogged here in a while, and have a lot to say as a consequence?

I watched a little bit of Batman and Robin the other night. It just made me feel contemptuous. It didn’t even manage to be camp. Urgh.

Collateral was… well, a bit weird. A bit motion-sickness-inducing, actually, what with all the hand-held camera, let’s-make-it-feel-as-if-you’re-there action. An interesting storyline – a fascinating one in a lot of ways, actually – and Tom Cruise really was quite good; so was Jamie Foxx.

Finally saw Pitch Black, having seen The Chronicles of Riddick at the movies. To be honest, it must have been Vin himself pushing for the sequel, because the original really was nothing special except for his character, who I really quite liked. About the most interesting thing was that half the cast were Australian; probably it was filmed here. Oh, the lighting for the surface of the planet was also quite cool – might have been a result of a low budget, too, though.

Murder at 1600 was really nothing much to write about. Wesley was entertaining. I think the most interesting thing was them making him a Civil War buff, with his battle sets, and then it being incorporated into the film. That, and the fact that the next day I found out my Yr12 history teacher is also into doing those sorts of things, but possibly even more extremely.